Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hide and Seek

The black heifer I "lost", is back. Let me tell you the story.....

On Thursday this week, when I popped in to the farm in the afternoon, the cattle are nowhere to be seen. All six, vanished. I see no evidence of the them going through the part where I had put up a fence. I see no evidence of foul play (car tyre tracks etc..) I must say I was quite relaxed. Did not really stress too much. Looked for them a little, but when I could not find them, I left, back to the office. (Assuming they were in the forest somewhere). My neighbour,Richard would have told me if they had gone over to his side. I did not see them anywhere the road side.

Friday afternoon I went back. Still no cattle, I walked a around calling them. I thought I heard them in the forest toward the east of the cottage, but I could not be sure. Again I left, not too worried.

Yesterday morning (Saturday) I went quite early, planning to search the forest with Litha, and there they were back in the camp, lounging at the water trough. (Well five of them at least. The black heifer was still missing.)

I put some time into erecting a new temporary electric fence around what I have called  "Camp B" and left them there over night.

When I went this morning, The five were still in Camp B, and the black heifer nowhere to be seen, I called and made a noise. I walked in the forest near the dam and listened out as best I could for her call, then when I walked up back to "camp b" there she was. I could tell by where she had disturbed the temporary electric fence, that she had been in the Port Jackson forest up the hill. (there is a small herd of calves just other side the fence)

So now with all six back in camp B, I have made a temporary electric fence subdivision. Trying now to begin to work toward the grazing plan I have in mind.

In other news, the dark brown heifer calf was looking very ill on Tuesday. It was limping a looked disorientated. We separated it and put in in camp A. By Wednesday it was looking a lot better and I put it back with he others. The bull seems to be quite rough and with push the others out of the way if there is some food that he particularly likes. Perhaps dark brown calf came a little too close.I can see how in future it would be best to have the calves separate from the adults.

Transfer is very close now. On Thursday the bond registration attorneys said that the documents had been "lodged" at the deeds office and that I had to pay an invoice of R16 000 for the transfer to proceed. I paid the invoice first thing on Friday morning, so I am expecting a notification from the attorneys this week informing me that the land is now in Hlubi and my name.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Expanding the pasture

Well the rain did come down. Nice soaking rain on Thursday night and during the day on Friday. I was out of town in East London, but went straight for the airport last night, just to go and see that the water troughs were full and that everything is in order.

I been putting some effort into planning my next steps with the pasture. This is my thinking right now:

Step 1 - move the temporary field fence (the red line)

Step 2 - Set up perimeter electric fence (white line)

Step 3 - 15 different strips can then be created using temporary electric fence.

Step 4 - Set up water lines

With the pasture set up in this way, I would be able to graze each strip for two days in order to give 28 days rest before it is re grazed. I can observe this arrangement ot see if it delivers enough nourishment for the cattle.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Rumours of Rain

I think I told you about the part time assistant, Marius, that has been clearing some vegetation and keeping an eye on the cattle. Well he did not pitch for work on Monday, yesterday or today. Perhaps he has had enough for now. I have been driven by this turn of events to try out a new routine.What we were doing is keeping the cattle in camp "A" at night behind the proper fence and a strand of temporary electric fence. Then in the morning when Marius would arrive, the cattle would be moved into camp "B" for the day. But now, I am leaving the cattle in camp "B" day and night. They are not wondering off. They are contained by fence only on two sides. The other two sides are basically the bush. The bush is thick and there is no incentive for them to wonder too far into it, because the better grazing is in the pasture area.

I have managed to get there each afternoon this week to be sure that the water is full. 

This new plan allows me to rest camp A a little. It would be great if I could give it a full 30 days rest. I just heard a few drops of rain come down through the open window. I hope some fell on the farm.

I am under pressure to develop a proper grazing plan. I would like to be use the temporary electric fence to divide camp B into 10 small strips and graze the cattle 2 days in each strip. Then perhaps pasture A into 5 strips each of 2 days. This will give each strip 30 days rest. With enough rain this could work out. But my feeling is that camp A plus camp B is still too small for the bull, two heifers and three calf's.

My observation continues.
Rest period for pasture "A" started on Monday,  10 February 2014

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The NH bloody BRC

Got my "enrolment certificate" from the NHBRC today. (they took thirteen days to issue a certificate they promise on their website to issue in 24 hours) Took it straight to the bond registration attorneys. They promise to send it off to Cape Towns deeds office immediately. This should then take three weeks before the bond is registered and the property is ours. I cant think of anything that could still go wrong, but it has been such a long ride that I can believe that its almost done. Three more weeks!

In other News I made a firm offer to rend the 9 ha of overgrown bush to the east of us yesterday. I offered R21000.00 for 5 years and I offered to pay up front. The offer was well received but there is a meeting with the lawyers that will bring this matter to some conclusion.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Everything's Gonna Be Ok

We spend three days last week in Cape Town (Bruce Springsteen concert) This forced me to make arrangements to be sure that the cattle could be watered and cared for while we were not there.
We drove back from Cape Town on Saturday (is about eight hours drive) we drove in past the farm, just checked the cattle water - It was almost empty.

The grazing situation has improved a little. Last week Tuesday we installed a make ship "bushfence". I took a 50 m length of 1.2m Field Fence and strung it between tees and vegetation on the edge of the camp. I tensioned with with tiedown straps. The types we use to tie our fishing skis on to the roofracks. We added droppers we had saved from clearing the driveway. Well the fence has held. The cattle have not challenged it.

So the routine has become to graze the cattle in the larger camp around the cottage in the day, and then to put them back into the 50 X 50 properly fenced camp during the night with the electric fence on. Seems to work.

Next step would be to use electric fence to strip graze the cottage camp, without putting the cattle back into the 50 x 50 camp each evening. This would begin to rest the grazing and allow it to recover before it is re-grazed.

On the progress with the transfer: NHBRC eventually gave me an "assessment" - the amount I must pay in order to get the enrolment certificate. (R4700.00, once I convinced them that I could not pay a fee based on the value of the entire farm and the new cottage that is to be built. We eventually agreed that a 1000 sq m plot could be assumed for calculation purposes) So they promised the enrolment certificate by tomorrow, which will then allow the bond registration attorneys to continue and then we should expect transfer in 3 weeks.